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Hundreds turn out for Mental Health KC Conference

This is the eighth year the conference has been held
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 8:14 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - For decades, discussions about mental health were whispered. Today, however, Kansas City had the loudest voice.

The campus of Cerner Innovations was center stage for the Eighth Annual Mental Health KC Conference.

“Even as a kid coming up, I never heard about mental health in my family,” said Michelle Jenkins. “Never even knew what it looked like,”

She heard and saw plenty. Michelle was one of more than 500 people who attended this year’s conference with the theme “Back to Basics.”

“By taking care of yourself, taking time for yourself, being with others, engaging in exercise, eating well, sleeping well,” said Tom Petrizzo, Chair of the Metropolitan Council of Community Health Centers. “All those things that help us build resilience and get mental wellness.”

Petrizzo said now is the perfect time for the discussion, as May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In addition, he said society is facing more than ever before.

“There’s really been a spike in the number of folks saying their level of stress, worry, anxiety has gone up during the pandemic,” said Petrizzo.

The conference is aimed at behavioral health professionals, but also management and people working in human resources. Conversations focused on topics of well-being, including building resilience, navigating burnout and promoting overall mental wellness.

“Particularly now that there’s a lot of challenges around recruitment and retention of employees and workplaces, it’s important to help them feel supported when they’re in that workplace,” said Petrizzo.

“My own son faces mental health challenges, so I’ve learned a lot since then,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins not only has a personal investment, but she also works with adults facing mental health illness.

“I just think once we have the knowledge about mental health, we’ll learn how to have more compassion for people,” said Jenkins.

Now armed with what she’s learned at the Mental Health KC Conference, Michelle hopes to further spread that compassion.

“Because this is what the world needs, if nothing else: the support,” said Jenkins.

The Mental Health KC Conference is put on by the Metro Council, which represents nine public health systems in the Kansas City area.